This week's performance show was a bit excessive, with two guest judges (one being the queen of excess herself, Lady Gaga) and twelve performances, three of which were hip hop and five of which were some type of contemporary or jazz. It got to be exhausting after a while, especially coming off of the long day I had, so forgive the inherent bitterness.
Sasha and Pasha (Quickstep by Jonathan Roberts)
Other than the headpiece Sasha was wearing, I didn't notice too much about this quickstep that was "bizarre." It was well-done and fine and all, but I must admit that I miss the days when quicksteps were actually quicksteps. When getting this style meant you were 100% going to be in the bottom and likely leaving the show. Now the choreographers are making the quickstep more interesting and more "contemporary." They're choreographing movement other than in the frame, so it gives the dancers a better opportunity to not completely blow it with the ballroom steps. I want a good old-fashioned shitshow of a quickstep!
Caitlynn and Ivan (Hip Hop by Marty Kudelka)
I'm not a fan of smooth hip hop, so I had a hard time getting into the groove of this one. I also don't really like Ivan, but Caitlynn shocked me with how good she was. She definitely had the swagger most non-hip hop dancers dancing hip hop have been missing this season. Strangely enough, all of the reasons I liked Caitlynn were all of the reasons the judges didn't like her. I liked that she wasn't so smooth like Ivan; I don't like that style of hip hop. I guess they have a point, considering this piece was choreographed as smooth hip hop, but I'd rather see sharp movements in my hip hop than slinky ones. So I liked her, sue me.
Jordan and Ade (Jazz by Tyce Diorio)
We all know that Jordan can be a sex kitten. That's when she's most successful, when she's strutting around the stage like a ho. So obviously she did fine with this one, since it didn't challenge her in the slightest (except to finally do a left-leg extension). The choreography was kinda frantic and kinda cheesy, and it didn't really go anywhere. It was there as a showcase for Jordan, and that's what it did. But that's all it did, and I'm not sure if that makes it successful or not. By the way, I hate that we're back to overpraising Tyce Diorio; did everyone already forget that trainwreck he choreographed last week about flight attendants?
Melanie and Neil (Contemporary by Mandy Moore)
Seriously, I can't express how much I love Mandy Moore and her affinity for bad 80s songs that she somehow transforms into artful contemporary dance. It just makes me giddy; I was literally bouncing up and down throughout the entire performance after hearing those opening notes of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Okay, so we all know this was amazing. It could be nothing less with these two dancing together. That flying leap (which covered about, oh, HALF the length of the stage) was epic. Melanie was fantastic, Neil was fantastic, the lifts were fantastic. And the lighting at the end was brilliant.
Ricky and Anya (Jive by Jason Gilkison)
As I said a lot last season, Anya just eats her partners alive. She's an all-around performer, a perfect blend of technique and explosive performance. Her face never belies her intention, even when it's just something purely fun like this. If Ricky had been paired with anyone else for this routine, I probably would've thought he did much better than I think he did with Anya. He was stiff to begin with; he didn't start with enough energy and never recovered from it. He wasn't square in the flicks, the lift Nigel referred to in his critique really was awful, and he was just constantly missing the fun.
P.S. - Dear Gaga: Love you. Love, love you. But this wasn't a modern routine. Anya had the right feeling, Ricky didn't. Sorry.
Jess and Lauren G. (Hip Hop by Nappytabs)
Ok, so... hip hop version of the park bench routine from season two. But still excellent. I loved the choreography so much, especially the musicality. Lauren was wonderful; she shredded that stage. Jess looked like a scared puppy next to her. Seriously, you're supposed to be sorry... you should probably look sorry. He didn't act for a single second, proving once again that he can't do much very well outside of acting like a dick doing campy musical theatre numbers. Lauren just seemed much more committed than Jess did, and she also seemed to appreciate how good the choreography was more than Jess. But seriously, am I the only one that sees this? The judges are in love with him and the audience seems to be too. I don't get it.
Tadd and Lauren F. (Jazz by Mandy Moore)
I didn't really feel this piece. It felt totally disjointed to me, with the multiple inclusions of Tadd's break dancing and the melding of hip hop and jazz. It just looked scattered and a little confusing. It was like "Ruby Blue's" jealous little brother, from back in season five. (Sorry for the multiple references to previous seasons, but is this feeling repetitive to anyone else? Or do I just need to let go a little bit and stop thinking so much?). I can see why it would be appealing to the judges, but it didn't work for me.
Marko and Allison (Contemporary by Sonya Tayeh)
It's gotta be me. Because I didn't really feel anything. If Sonya didn't explain the intention, I wouldn't have understood. If Allison wasn't dancing the piece, I wouldn't have seen any emotion. Marko's technique was nearly flawless, and the performance of the choreography was nearly flawless (save for one moment when the two weren't synchronized). But I just didn't feel what everyone else apparently felt. I think Sonya has done better (this season even, with the tethered dance between Ryan and Ricky), and I think Marko has done better (the Dee Caspary piece). It was very good, yes, but I'm not in love.
Caitlynn and Tadd (Foxtrot by Jonathan Roberts)
I was lost as soon as the choreographer said it was like Fred and Ginger. Let's be real, there's only one Fred Astaire and Tadd is about the farthest thing this show has from him. Watching old Fred and Ginger movies, I was never bored. Watching these two, I was bored. Caitlynn looked beautiful and danced nearly as good. Tadd has the charm to sell this style, but he was too lost in the steps and the character to really sell it.
Marko and Ricky (Hip Hop by Nappytabs)
Jesus Christ, I'm over it. Nappytabs had great success with the breakdown at the middle of "Outta Your Mind" last season, and they repeated the same style and even some of the same steps with this. But whereas that had a great concept and two great dancers, this was about janitors (for no reason, they really could've just come out and danced) and featured an Amazon woman dancing with Marko. Oh wait, that's Ricky. I just keep forgetting he has any testosterone because he dances like he has a vagina. Look, I'm really not this bitter. The choreography was really good (up until the breakdown, which was just silly and so self-referential I wanted to vomit), and I really liked Marko's performance. But I'm ready for Ricky to go.
Jordan and Jess (Rumba by Jason Gilkison)
And Jordan is sexy again. And Jess is anything BUT sexy. The choreography and performances were both "meh." They didn't fit together as a pair either. And that's literally all I can think of to say about this one. Meh.
Sasha and Melanie (Jazz by Sonya Tayeh)
Wow. That shit was nuts. It was kind of fractured and formless, but totally structurally surreal and alien. It was androgynous and athletic but beautiful. I feel like this choreography is the kind of risk-taking this show used to be about and has kind of lost recently. It was styled wonderfully and danced flawlessly. Love... lovelovelovelovelovelove.
My Bottom Four